Changes to the Arms Act – 26 February 2013

LegalThe long anticipated amendments to the Arms Act and the Arms Licensing Regulations were published in today?s Malta Government Gazette. Legal Notices 75 and 76 of 2013 come into immediate effect. All the proposals that we submitted through the Weapons Board in collaboration with other stake-holders have been taken on board. The most sensible arms law in the EU has just become better.

Thanks to your support we have done it yet again. We have been around for 28 years yet we are as dynamic as ever. AMACS is your undisputed reference point for the collection of arms and target shooting. It is a guarantee for the future of your investment in both pursuits.

Immediately upon our foundation on 12 June 1985 we successfully lobbied against the introduction of import tax on collectors items, arguing that Government is morally bound not to deter individual collectors from enriching our heritage. Conscious of the taboo attached to arms and private possession thereof, we embarked on a series of exhibitions in which we displayed all forms of arms in their historical context. In a few years we managed to effect a culture change and eventually the collection of arms became socially acceptable.

However our sights were also set on the use of firearms in target shooting. Hence in 1989 we organised the first ever target shooting event with original muzzle-loading firearms. Incidentally we also introduced historical re-enactment through this event. We did not stop there. We initiated a concerted lobbying campaign for a change in regulations, leaving no stone unturned (to quote a former Commissioner of Police) to achieve our aims. This resulted in the 1996 policy changes that ushered in the importation of collectible arms, airguns and muzzle-loading firearms.

With yet another feather in our cap we marched on to lobby for a totally new arms law. We felt that the 1931 Arms Ordnance was past its sell-by date as it granted the Police far too much Colonial-like discretion. This was a tough nut to crack. But crack it we did with much effort, negotiations and long hours of hard work. In July 2005 we sat in the Strangers Gallery of Parliament and witnessed both sides of the House unanimously approving the Bill with the proposals that we had conceived and modelled on the EU Arms Directive. This must have been the proudest moment of our lives. Once the Arms Licensing Regulations were drafted and published on 15 August 2006 the new law came into effect. The Weapons Board replaced the pre-Act Weapons Advisory Board and the good work carried on.

These new gains are there to be enjoyed by all enthusiasts, irrespective of their club membership. Above all, these changes will benefit our country by giving serious collectors and sports shooters greater opportunities, opening up sport shooting tourism and guaranteeing the viability of shooting ranges. We will not stop here of course. There is always room for improvement and AMACS will be at the forefront once again.

Our track record in pioneering legislative change is second to none. However our achievements go beyond this. From a working group of fourteen we have grown to accommodate eight hundred members of all ages and from all walks of life. Perhaps the most significant step in our recent history has been to move back to Tigne? in style by acquiring a prestigious 600 square metre premises in which members and guests may partake in administrative matters, specialised courses, discussions and social interaction. We are now embarking on an exciting and ambitious plan for our Clock Tower site, converting it into an exhibition hall and an Olympic-standard 10 meter indoor range for airguns and rimfire guns. Last week our plans took a decisive turn with generous funding received from Government. This aid is an endorsement of your Association?s contribution to the enhancement of sports and culture in Malta.

On behalf of my Committee and members I thank Minister Chris Said who steered these Legal Notices through Cabinet and followed them on to publication just as he promised to. His support was indispensable. I also thank the Weapons Board Chairman and members for endorsing the changes that we proposed.

Stephen A. Petroni

A SUMMARY OF THE LEGISLATIVE IMPROVEMENTS TO THE ARMS ACT SCHEDULES AND THE LICENSING REGULATIONS (LN 75/2013 and LN 76/2013)

A. SCHEDULES

1. Handguns with barrel lengths less than 9cm have been moved from Schedule I to Schedule II and may henceforth be kept under a Target Shooter Licence A or a Collector Licence A irrespective of their date of manufacture.

2. Alarm or signalling firearms have been moved from Schedule II to Schedule III. They are subject to registration but one no longer requires a licence to acquire or keep them.

3. Airsoft and Paintball guns have been moved from Schedule II to Schedule III. No licence is required to transfer them. They may only be taken outdoors provided the owner is a member of an Airsoft/Paintball club.

4. Blank-firing guns have been introduced into Schedule II as per new EU regulation. A Collector Licence A is required to own them.

5. Edged weapons have been eliminated from the Schedules; no licence or registration is required to acquire and/or possess them.

6. Non-firing imitation firearms have been eliminated from the Schedules; no licence or registration is required to acquire and/or possess them.

7. Harpoon guns have been eliminated from the Schedules; no licence or registration is required to acquire and/or possess them.

8. Sling shots and stun guns have been introduced into Schedule I.

9. Archery Bows with a peak pulling weight over 60 pounds are now classified under Schedule II and hence subject to a licence like Crossbows.

B. LICENSING REGULATIONS

1. The distinction between pre-1946 and post-1945 Schedule II firearms has been eliminated; collectors may now own an unlimited number of post-1945 Schedule II firearms.

2. Persons who are in possession of BOTH a Collector Licence A and a Target Shooter Licence A may take ANY three Schedule II firearms in their possession to the range; no transfers are required;

3. Non-licensed persons are allowed to shoot on a range provided that they first attend a briefing and are always under the supervision of an RCO.

4. Police ?Ad hoc? permits for sports shooting on a non-licensed site may now be issued more than once.

5. Persons in possession of a Target Shooting Licence A and/or B to be issued with a Target Shooting Licence B (Airgun only) without the need for a Weapons Board recommendation.

6. Range Conducting Officers are no longer required to supervise clay pigeon shooting events.

7. Holders of a Target Shooting Licence A, Target Shooting Licence B and a Gunsmith Licence are obliged to be insured for third party risks.

8. A Film Armourer Permit may be granted to a person or group of persons who collectively already hold all the following three licences: Firearms dealer, Target Shooter Licence A and Collector Licence A.

See also: http://www.amacs-malta.org/web/?p=3459